First record about Porkhov fortress was made in Novgorod's chronicles in 1239. Knight of Novgorod Alexander Jaroslavovitch ('Nevsky') established the trade way along Shelonj river from Novgorod to Pskov by building of small wooden strong points. Porkhov fortress was one of them. Its fortifications consisted two lines of earthen ramparts and ditches and wooden wall above the ramparts.
In 1346 Great Lithuanian knight Olgerd invaded the Novgorod's territory and took by storm fortress Luga and Shelonj and sieged fortress Opocka and Porkhov. Porkhov stood it's first test. Lithuanians got the war indemnity in 300 rubles from the fortress and got away. In 1387 new stone fortress was erected on the right bank of Shelonj river. The fortress had four towers. Towers had 15-17 meters height and 4-6 wooden levels and walls had 1.4-2 meters thick and 7 meters height. The towers pushed out from the wall's line and could flanked the approaches to the walls. All building works were finished within a year.
July 1428 Lithuanian knight Vitovt besieged the fortress. It was the first siege in Russia with mass artillery shelling. The fruitless siege endured 8 days and fortress was badly damaged. In 1430 the big reconstruction was in the fortress. Thick of it's walls was increased considerably up to 4.5 meters at the most dangerous parts. The gates of the fortress were reconstructed too - the portcullis were arranged.
After seizing the Novgorod and Pskov territories by Moscow in 1478 and 1510 the state border was moved to the west far from the fortress. There were not any storms and sieges of Porkhov from this time. It's fortifications lost it's value soon and preserved till nowadays not disturbed by later rebuilding and reconstructions.
The trade city appeared near to the fortress. In 1776 it became the area administrative center. Rapid city growth begun in 1890s after the railway Pskov-Dno was built. The fortress ruined gradually as long as some repair works were held in 1912.
During the WWII Porkhov fell under German occupation for 4 years. Nikolskaya church in the fortress was in action during the war. It's abbot father Pavel was linked with partisans and provided shelter for escapees from German POW camps. February, 1944 German troops burnt the city and gone away.
Now Porkhov is one of the small Russian provincial cities. There few old city buildings preserves. The fortress is restored partly. The wall along river bank is reconstructed and could be observed, but towers are still in the ruined condition without roofs and floors and could be visited only by your own risk. There are the little local museum and nice botanic garden inside of the fortress. Nikolskaya church which was closed in 1930-th is on the duty now.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.